Call to action: Housing protest co-organisers Hannah Sullivan, left, and Lindsay Waterfield on Monday night

Queenstown’s housing protest co-organiser Hannah Sullivan says the resort’s rental housing crisis is now on the national radar.

About 100 people turned up at the lakefront on Monday night, most of whom have nowhere permanent to call home.

Sullivan, who was interviewed for TVNZ’s Breakfast show on Tuesday morning, tells Mountain Scene there can be no more shying away from the issue, given the media coverage the protest garnered.

‘‘I’ve got family in Auckland who messaged me and said ‘we just [saw] you on the news’, and my friend in Christchurch.

‘‘The problem’s now known all over the country.’’

She and co-organiser Lindsay Waterfield say they were disappointed at the lack of turnout from elected members — mayor Glyn Lewers was noticeable by his absence, while Craig Ferguson was the only Queenstown councillor who turned up.

‘‘You know, you reach out to people and they don’t turn up, when their vision is for everyone to work together, to allow locals to thrive.

‘‘It would have been really nice to see [Lewers], or at least some more members of the elected council, to speak to the people they are here to help.’’

However, Sullivan says she heard from Lewers on Tuesday and they were looking to meet him this week.

Determined to find immediate solutions to help those in greatest need, Sullivan suggests empty hotel rooms could provide part of the solution.

‘‘It’s now shoulder season, the council, government, whatever, can subsidise it — we’ve got some subsidised housing scheme we can use, surely?

‘‘Why can we not use that toward, for example, using one level of each hotel that’s not full at the moment?

‘‘At least do that in four-week blocks, so people have … a place of respite for four weeks and know they’re safe.’’

Novotel boss Jim Moore says employers need to be front-footing the issue, particularly if they have staff that are homeless, ‘‘or they won’t have staff’’.

He thinks there could be merit in Sullivan’s suggestion, particularly for those hotels who don’t have enough staff to open to full capacity.

‘‘In the case of my hotel last year, we took 30 rooms out of service so that we could help our staff, and that we would have staff to clean the other rooms.

‘‘It may work for a few months and some hotels/motels may be prepared to help out as a short-term option.’’

He also suggests ‘‘mobile housing units’’ could be set up — possibly Warren Park, beside Ngāi Tahu Property’s Te Pā Tāhuna development — as a short-term fix, or if housing subsidies are found, they could be used to ‘‘try to convince’’ property owners using their pads as short-term rentals to instead offer them to workers.

Builder’s tiny offer to help fix our crisis

A Christchurch builder’s offered to do what he can to help provide warm housing for Queenstown’s homeless.

Māhoka Homes owner Sam Rickard says he builds small homes and tiny homes on trailers.

Describing the first two he’s building at the moment as ‘‘a small tiny house’’, Rickard says they measure about 6 metres by 2.4m, and have the living and bedroom in the same area, with a small kitchen and wee bathroom, which would use a composting toilet.

Aside from finding willing landowners to allow the homes to be parked on, Rickard says they’d need to connect a power lead, like a caravan
plug, have a gas califont, and a water hose to plug in.

He says he can potentially supply about six, which he’d rent out for about $250 a week.

Rickard, who’s visited Queenstown a few times, but doesn’t really have a connection here, says he read an article about the situation in Mountain Scene’s sister paper, Otago Daily Times, and wanted to do something to help to get people out of the cold.

Scene has passed his details to Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers.

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